Ayende @ Rahien

Refunds available at head office

You are not allowed to understand us, it is the LAW!

It is not just developers that are making life interesting. Here is an exchange from today:

image

I am very happy to sell you whatever you want, but I would really like to know what it is that you want.

Comments

B.A.M.F
01/23/2013 10:09 AM by
B.A.M.F

Yeah . There, RIGHT THERE, where it says "SAP" - there's your problem ;-)

Dirk
01/23/2013 10:50 AM by
Dirk

actually it is quite easy to create a translated order form in a SAP ERP environment if the IT department can be bothered with it. Our suppliers in Taiwan also don't understand german...

Sam
01/23/2013 11:21 AM by
Sam

I don't get it. What was the matter of that conversation? Did he ordered something from your place?

I also don't get that part with the translation. I'm also located in Germany and that is the first time I heard something like that. That sounds very wrong what he's saying.

Jesse Houwing
01/23/2013 12:21 PM by
Jesse Houwing

There is so much that can get lost in translation... The old and new order must probably be reviewed and stamped by a licensed translator and reviewed by a legal department somewhere...

I was once on a project with a translation mishap, German customers were required to separate from their husband or wife in order to be allowed to receive an upgrade discount. That wasn't what the English said.

Ayende Rahien
01/23/2013 12:22 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Jesse, Doesn't matter. I can't process any German order, I don't understand what they mean.

Chris
01/23/2013 02:34 PM by
Chris

I'm really confused here. So he can't translate the full text, but he can translate parts of it? I'd put my money on something being lost in translation or a misunderstanding of laws/rules/regulations.

@Jesse Houwing,

I'd be interested to know what the original English text was and the intended and erroneous German text, if you are able to recall/share. I am trying to learn German, so potential pitfalls and subtleties are quite helpful.

James Curran
01/23/2013 03:25 PM by
James Curran

So, did you include an End-User License Agreement written in Hebrew?

James Curran
01/23/2013 03:44 PM by
James Curran

@Chris - The company cannot offer a legally-binding document written in any language besides German, but he, personally, can offer you (non-legally binding) advise on what the German document says.

Fishy
01/23/2013 07:31 PM by
Fishy

lol...that sounds like a typical german regulation :-) But seriously...i'm from Germany and I never heard about something stupid like that before.

Stephen Hardie
01/23/2013 07:53 PM by
Stephen Hardie

This seems a bit obvious, but assuming all of this was provided in electronic form couldn't you have used Google Translate?

Bryan Johns
01/23/2013 08:30 PM by
Bryan Johns

Here's what I get from that exchange. A non-German company had better be ready to hire their own lawyer who is fluent in reading and speaking German to review the German language contract before doing business with a German company. Also, German companies wishing to do business with non-German companies should expect to pay a higher price to defray the costs of such a lawyer.

Alessandro Riolo
01/24/2013 12:05 AM by
Alessandro Riolo

@Fishy: I am not an expert on German law, but I sort of remember hearing or reading somewhere that German businesses must keep their accounts in German language, and if they aren't, upon request from the fiscal authorities they must provide a translation in German at their own expense. This business may have taken that provision one step further, or so their tall poppies may have thought, shifting the burden of the eventual translation to their supplier, of trying thereof. Or perhaps is some new piece of legislation I haven't yet heard about :)

@Ayende: would you be so kind as to ask this gentleman to point out which exact German law is forcing them not to provide a purchase order in a foreign language?

@Ayende II: don't get me wrong, but first time I heard you speak, I thought you were German, a German with a funny accent, but German nonetheless.

configurator
01/24/2013 12:37 AM by
configurator

@Alessandro: everyone that hears me speak English assumes I'm French, because of the accent. Everyone that hears me speak French assumes I'm English because of the accent...

@Ayende: Imagine only speaking very basic English, and not knowing anyone who speaks it any better than you. Would you write a binding legal document in English? Would you stake your employer's money and reputation on that? I wouldn't.

Ayende Rahien
01/24/2013 04:46 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Bryan, It isn't a contract, is is (probably) a PO. They want to buy something from us, I would assume. I just don't know for sure, or what, or how much. Or what terms they need.

Ayende Rahien
01/24/2013 04:48 AM by
Ayende Rahien

Configurator & Alessandro, This isn't a contract. This is me going into a store in Berlin and asking in Hebrew what is the price of 1.56 kg of coffee.

Bryan Johns
01/24/2013 12:59 PM by
Bryan Johns

A PO is a form of contract, albeit normally fairly short lived unless it contains a description of paying for the goods or services in installments. Regardless, if German law prevents them from issuing something as simple as a PO in English, what kind of crazy restrictions would apply to more involved contracts?

Fishy
01/24/2013 02:32 PM by
Fishy

@Allesandro that's not correct...we use a lot of products (ReSharper, DevExpress, Pardigm etc.) from companies outside Germany and all we need for fiscal issues are valid invoices, no matter what language they are. But maybe bigger companies have their own laws for handling things like this.

Carsten
01/25/2013 05:42 PM by
Carsten

I am German and I fully understand the guy: Usually, you have an enormous set of terms and conditions as part of a PO. Accepting the PO means to accept the terms and conditions as well. These are made by lawyers and as a simple procurement guy you are not allowed to deliver any translation.

Please stop joking about us.

Ayende Rahien
01/25/2013 07:11 PM by
Ayende Rahien

Carsten, How do you expect a non German company to accept a PO, then?

Carsten
01/25/2013 08:27 PM by
Carsten

Good question but beyond the rules. The rules are not there to be understood they are there to be followed.

Jesse Houwing
01/29/2013 01:07 AM by
Jesse Houwing

On the devorce in Germen: Trust me, no normal translation would end up like this. Translations happen in different ways, this was my last translation done in India, checked in India. We moved to Done in either source or target language country, checked by native speaker for this project. A little more expensive (a lot), but it saved us so many headaches.

Koen Metsu
01/29/2013 10:02 AM by
Koen Metsu

Invoicing to an international customer, I have this limitation as well. All Belgian invoices must be made in the language of residence (French or Dutch depending on where you live). I'm required by law to send a Dutch invoice, but since my client doesn't understand it, I just send a translated invoice as well. It's silly, but it's the law.

ENOTTY
01/29/2013 06:11 PM by
ENOTTY

The rules are not there to be understood they are there to be followed.

That is wrong on so many levels.

Matt Salmon
02/01/2013 06:33 AM by
Matt Salmon

"The rules are not there to be understood they are there to be followed."

It is really terrifying to me that anyone can actually believe this.

Alessandro Riolo
02/05/2013 02:07 PM by
Alessandro Riolo

@Carsten: My grandad once rescued, hided and feeded a teenaged Wehrmacht soldier for months. At some point the guy was something like 500 miles behind enemy lines. Was my grandad wrong? Same happened to my grand uncle in Russia, he survived the war, and its afterwards, thanks to Russian peasants. Were they wrong? The rules are there to be understood, and if the case, questioned and flaunted.

Comments have been closed on this topic.